New Yorkers were able to find out about sanitary conditions in city restaurants until the Health Department restricted accest to inspection records about a decade ago. When The News first requested the records in November 1996, the Health Department at first denied that such a database existed. After the city acknowledged the records did exist, The News still had to fight for more than 14 months to get them. The News finally got the records in January, and when the investigative team analyzed them they realized the records said as much about how poor the city inspection process is as they did about the restaurants themselves.
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